Of course, we also had to visit one of the highlights of Jodhpur. The big Mehrangarh fort that thrones over the city and is just massive! It’s about 120 metres above the city and there are many paths that you can walk up to the fort.
Its walls are up to 36 meters high and 21 meters wide – so it is very big! The building materials were chiselled from the rock on which the fort stands, so the structure merges with its base. This looks amazing at night time, when the whole fort is coated in a yellow/orange glow from the lights.
Inside these imposing thick walls are several courthouses, gardens, courtyards, balconies, galleries and heavily ornamented private residences. Even today, several people are living in houses inside the fort, some of those houses are actually inside the thick walls of the fort!
Mehrangarh Fort was built in the 15th century by Rao Jodha when he shifted his capital from nearby Mandore (this is where we went to see the garden with the monkeys) to Jodhpur. It is still run by the Jodhpur royal family, Mehrangarh is chock-full of history and legend.
The approach to the fort is guarded by seven gates. The first gate, the Victory Gate, was built by Maharaja Man Singh to commemorate his victories over Jaipur and Bikaner armies. The other gates mark several other battle wins.
Past the gates, the palace is amazing:
Across from huge courtyards are the set wings of palatial apartments that have been built over five centuries of bristling history.
Today, managed as a museum by the royal trust, only some of the more spectacular palaces of Meharangarh are open to the visitors.
These consists of Moti Mahal (Palace of Pearls) with its pierced screen windows overlooking the coronation seat where the Rathore ruler have been ritually anointed to rule…
…Jhanki Mahal (Palace of Glimpses), from where the royal ladies watched the official proceedings in the courtyard; the royal Darbar Takhat or throne room with its octagonal throne; and the Rang Mahal (Palace of Colors) where the maharaja would play Holi with his wives.
There are many things to see in the museum – actually too many, I ran out of time in the end. So here is just my favourite, an elephant howdah, which is a kind of two-compartment wooden seat (mostly covered with gold and silver embossed sheets), which was fastened on to the elephant back. The front compartment with more leg space and raised protective metal sheet was meant for kings or royalty and rear smaller ones for a bodyguard. This gallery displays fine examples of elephant seat from the museum collection, which is regarded as the best in the country.
You can find out much more about the museum collection on the official website, which provides much more detail.